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What’s on the Horizon for Sensormatic?

With Sensormatic for eight years and based in metro Chicago, Dan Mahoney was promoted to his current position as vice president and general manager during the height of the pandemic. He oversaw the streamlining of the three business areas (Inventory Intelligence, Loss Prevention, and Shopper Journey) and the convergence of those units to focus on leveraging data. Read on as LPM Vice President and Editor-in-Chief Stefanie Hoover gets to know Dan at NRF PROTECT 2023.

STEFANIE HOOVER: As we’re here at NRF PROTECT 2023, I’m sure you’re enjoying meeting with customers one-on-one and hearing what’s happening direct from the source. Can you share with us any common themes from your conversations?

DAN MAHONEY: We’ve been hearing loud and clear that safety is at the top of everyone’s mind. Every retailer is struggling with keeping store associates and shoppers safe. This is a problem that hasn’t been experienced at this level before and it’s causing retailers to search for new solutions and solution providers to step up to the plate and innovate.

We’re also having many conversations about digitization; it’s no longer aspirational, stores are getting smarter and loss prevention teams are getting a seat at the data table to solve their problems as well. LP/AP practitioners we’ve talked with are in tune with the “customer experience” and are savvy about needing to find ways they can lower friction for the green customer and increase friction for the red actors.

HOOVER: Can you give me an example of technology Sensormatic has or is working on that can help with this friction problem?

MAHONEY: Absolutely. A great example of friction that went the wrong way is self-checkout. Initially, retailers thought this would be a great way to reduce friction on the customer journey, but unfortunately customers found it difficult to navigate and fraudsters found it easy to take advantage. That’s why we are teaming up with Zliide, which is a simple handheld device that easily allows the good customers to check out themselves through a digital platform and without the need to download an app.

Smart exits are another game changing technology; why not use the data that already exists? Collecting data on items purchased and monitoring for fraudulent returns is a natural next step in using the data that’s out there.

It is apparent that retailers are more open today than ever before—I’d say we’re at an inflection point—in regard to RFID. Over the last twenty-plus years, RFID has been seen as cost prohibitive, but the market has matured and now shrink has risen, so this has accelerated the need for retailers to be open to trying the technology.

Another technology that we’ve heard a lot about at NRF PROTECT is computer vision or video intelligence. This technology has improved tremendously, even over just the last three years. Our system can work with legacy systems on IP video. And then tying all these together—smart exits, computer vision, self-checkout—that’s the real game changer.

HOOVER: It seems that several new companies have popped up in the AI and computer vision space, many represented at this show. Can you talk about what sets Sensormatic apart from those folks and other solution providers in general?

MAHONEY: It’s really three areas. First is our ability to scale—we have a global presence and when a company needs to roll out a thousand stores in a year, we have the resources to do that. Second is our innovative history. We have fifty years on the books of helping customers and collaborating with them to come up with solutions together. We develop a deep understanding of our customers’ needs and are careful not to oversell. Last is our expertise and our people. We have team members with a long tenure who know how to properly execute.

HOOVER: It sounds like you have thoughtful conversations with your customers; what are you hearing from them about the newest epidemic, ORC?

MAHONEY: It’s in the paper every day now—in fact we were just discussing the latest legislation in California, which restricts interaction with the shoplifters as they leave.

HOOVER: I saw that as well—the constant changes are hard to follow, and retailers are wondering what to do.

MAHONEY: There’s that, and of course, it comes back to the safety element that I mentioned earlier. These things are causing retailers to explore new tactics and look at ways to leverage existing technology.

We’ve hosted a group of around twenty-five retailers for several years on our Retail Performance Council. There is much more talk of retailers banding together and collaborating. There’s talk about the holy grail of a database where retailers can safely share information. They’re trying to find ways to identify the ORC groups earlier, before the theft, and then how to share the data with other retailers. We’re all fighting the same battle. License plate recognition and geofencing are all on the table as the increase in ORC pushes for new solutions. It’s been heartening to hear the collaboration and determination coming from the council.

HOOVER: Is there any advice that you would offer to LP practitioners out there in the thick of it?

MAHONEY: I believe that LP/AP folks are living through some of the most challenging times on record. Burnout is real! Take time for self-care, whatever that looks like for you. And second, continue to collaborate and build on the momentum that is building. Truly great things are happening because retailers are willing to work together more than ever before.

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